Do you ever feel alone around people? I remember this strange sense of isolation when I returned to school the summer after my open-heart surgery when I was 14. Something in me changed. I feel this again. I thought I was fine during my time off work. I kept myself busy. Although, I was by myself most of the time I kind of liked it. I enjoyed writing and doing the things I wanted to do. There were times I wish my friends would make the effort and see me but, the thought didn’t overwhelm me. This week has been my first week back to work since my surgery and I remembered that feeling I had when I was fourteen. It was that feeling of isolation again.
How is this possible? It was the flooding of people asking me and telling me that I look great and asking me in passing how I’m doing, expecting me to say “great” because I’m back and what else would I say. When I say “well, I’m still hurting” or something of the same I get in return “well, glad your back” or “well it will take some time.” I guess I’m being too hard. But it all feels so insincere and it seriously makes me feel so alone. I would rather someone not even acknowledge it, then make small talk about my illness. Because it’s not small talk to me. Invisible illness is funny like that. When you can’t see my scar. You can’t see what I’ve gone through. It’s forgotten, the pain, the trauma that I’ve been through. When I’m alone I can deal with it. But when I must go through the whole day masking, then on top of it being reminded of trauma and having to gloss over details so I can answer to my co-workers that I’m doing great! Well, I remember why that fourteen-year-old girl stopped talking about her feelings, I remember why she held all her pain inside and then took it out in unhealthy ways. I remember how isolated I was and how isolated I feel now.